SYDNEY — A mock trial of David Hicks held in front of PM John Howard's office on August 26 was organised by the Canterbury Bankstown Peace Group and Justice for Hicks and Habib Campaign. An activist dressed in US military uniform was the prosecutor, defence lawyer and judge. Another dressed as Howard, and "Hicks" was dressed in orange overalls, a hood and handcuffs, and had a "guilty" sign around his neck. Another "US soldier" silenced Hicks every time he spoke.
The jury — stood with their mouths taped. Passers by stopped to watch, some expressing anger at the judge and prosecutor's comments. The jury eventually declared Hicks innocent, and hung the "guilty" sign on Howard, declaring him a war criminal.
The activists were demanding the immediate return of David Hicks to Australia and the repeal of the "anti-terror" laws in Australia. They also denounced the August 23 attack on Mamdouh Habib (see page 10).
MP calls for general strike
MELBOURNE — ALP federal MP for Calwell, Maria Vamvakinou, would not commit to opposing individual contracts at a public meeting in Campbellfield organised by the Fair Go Union Solidarity coalition on August 22.
Instead, she asked for "feedback" about individual contracts and said she welcomed union pressure on the ALP to change its policy. Vamvakinou also suggested that the ACTU organise a general strike to "do what they do in other countries, close the place down".
Dave Kerin told the meeting about the Union Solidarity coalition's networking role in Melbourne, and Jess Permezel from the Council of Single Mothers and their Children explained that single parents, already threatened with a loss of working rights, are also having the welfare safety net pulled from under them.
BRISBANE — Dr Rosemary Webb, a member of the editorial board for Seeing Red magazine , addressed a discussion evening to celebrate the fourth issue of the publication at the Avid Reader Bookshop on August 26. Webb led off a panel discussion, including Dr Carole Ferrier, from the literature department at University of Queensland, and Ross Gwyther, an organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union, both contributors to the magazine.
The discussion expanded on several themes taken up in Seeing Red, including the campaign against the anti-union offensive, which is covered in detail in the current issue. For more information, visit <http://www.seeing-red.org>.
Linking war and neo-liberalism
SYDNEY — London Stop the War Coalition activist and Socialist Workers Party member Chris Nineham addressed a meeting of 40 people on August 22, organised by Socialist Worker newspaper.
"Bush, Blair and Howard appear confident, but under the surface, they have huge problems", Nineham said. "Neo-liberalism has produced misery, but it has not solved the problems of the capitalist system. In particular, it has not restored profitability" to the levels of the early 1970s or before, he said.
Nineham explained how Washington's ideological justifications for neo-liberalism and the "war against terror" are unravelling. Bush and Blair "don't try to construct an argument anymore. They just try to hide [the war and its effects] from the front page." There is a corresponding "growing global confidence to confront neoliberalism", he concluded.
Same-sex marriage rights
HOBART — More than 40 young people joined a same-sex marriage rights protest organised by Resistance on August 26. Rodney Croome from Tasmania's Gay and Lesbian Rights Group sparked loud applause when he announced that, following a court ruling in Fiji two hours earlier, two gay men had been released from custody after serving six months of a two-year prison sentence for having consenting sex.
Police tried unsuccessfully to usher the protestors away from the roadside, where they were getting a lot of supportive honks from passing motorists.
From Green Left Weekly, August 31, 2005.
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